Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snow Falling on Cedars

I know that this book has been around for over a decade now, but I hadn't read it until this week--and I'm glad that I finally did! Why? Well, A) Actively reading helps my mood B) It was a durn good book!

I vaguely knew that the book was based in the Puget Sound and that there was something about Japanese Americans and racial conflict, but I had no idea how wonderfully complex and well-woven the book was.

While the driving story line is based on the murder trial of a local Japanese American fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, the underlying plot of an old, forbidden tryst between his now-wife and another islander reveal complexities of the murder case as well as island politics.

The murder trial takes place in the 1950s, but the tyrst leads readers back to the early 1930s and beyond as Guterson frames racial tensions and community relations on the small island. Painting a rich picture of island life and crafting complex character relations makes for an entertaining read, but Guterson also injects stark realism with his portrayal World War II's affect on the islanders.

For anyone who enjoys a book with well wrought description and memorable, complex characters, "Snow Falling on Cedars" is a must read. It was especially enjoyable as a Western Washingtonian to read descriptions of our wet conifer forests and local island towns but even without a close connection to the setting of this book I would've enjoyed Guterson's descriptions and carefully cultivated scenery.

I finished the book in short order and was sad to see the finish come so soon as the characters were so realistic and intriguing. Not only did I enjoy the touch of romance and the wonderful writing, I appreciated the historical complexity Guterson crafted into his novel with great skill. Two thumbs way up!

In other news: Millie went to the vet yesterday and got IV fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea meds. We're trying to get to drink on her own and keep eating and also have to give her antibiotics for the next week or so, twice a day.

Iroh is perky and lounging in the sunshine as much as he can (in no way guilty about getting his sister sick).

I also read "The Girl With No Shadow" by Joanne Harris, a sequel to her novel "Chocolat."

While I enjoyed the book, it did take a while to get underway and was not nearly as enchanting as "Chocolat." I was constantly distracted by the leap from a small, backwards village to a modern Paris with iPods and laptops, but in the end the characters saved the book and drew me in. (I think part of my problem was that I read "Chocolat" so long ago and had seen the movie very recently, they are two different beasts and probably confused my reading a bit.)

I did enjoy the "villain" in this novel as she was much more crafty and threatening than the mayor in "Chocolat." "The Girl With No Shadow" has more magic and enough deceit and drama to keep your pages turning and was an entertaining afternoon read that I plowed through rather quickly! Not a must-read, but an okay afternoon's entertainment.

The parents are coming up this afternoon for a meatloaf dinner and an evening minor league baseball game. It should be fun, but we have to keep a tight schedule as my dad has to be at the airport with my brother and co. before 0500 tomorrow to head to Vegas (my brother is turning 21 on Monday-yippee!).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

So Far, So Good

All right, so I didn't roll out of bed until a quarter-to-eleven this morning-but I'm giving myself a pat on the back! I've showered (first time I've showered right after getting up in ages), I'm dressed and ready to leave for yoga (first time in nearly two weeks), and I've been doing a little bit better overall since my visit to the doc last week.

PAT ON BACK-check.

Baby steps is what it's all about! Wanda has been texting me to check up and is a supportive beacon for me. My fiance has been patient and willing to slow down and rest up with me or hop off the couch for a walk when I'm for it. Mom has been supportive, upbeat, and non-naggy (which anyone with a mom will appreciate) and I've even read a  just-for-fun book in the past two days.

Thanks to Wanda and my own thunkin' on the topic, "baby steps" has become a sort of mantra. Don't expect yourself to be better in one day, don't build up expectations then let yourself down and risk another relapse; just do what you can, when you can and embrace baby steps.

So I'm baby steppin' out to yoga class today and I'm going to try to consciously enjoy the sunshine for the first time in a long time :o)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Registries and Mom Visitation

Shortly after our engagement I brought home an obligatory wedding magazine (my only wedding magazine to date for that matter) to ogle dresses and extravagant cakes. The fiance "oohed" a couple dresses but the most interesting page for him was a Macy's ad for a Sip & Scan registry event-- "Champagne and laser guns! We gotta do that!"

After some research I found out the events are somewhat few and far between and one happened to be coming up at a nearby Macy's. We RSVP'd and this past Thursday we had our first wedding registry experience at Macy's.

The event was a hotbed of specialist salespeople and consumerism. After nearly two hours of browsing the fiance and I were exhausted and ready for bed. We had a pretty good time, but aren't too invested in the idea of wedding registries.

At first, we were not going to register at all. Our original plan was to provide a list of charities and ask for donations in lieu of gifts. We decided to do the Sip & Scan and decide afterward if we wanted to use the registry and it seems like a more traditional reception is in our future so the registry might come in handy.

I told Mom about our registering experience and she wanted to know how many tings we had on our list-53. "Ha! That's nothing, you'll need a lot more."

Next thing you know, we're at Target registering for 13 tubs of cat litter. Not counting multiples of items, we added 15 items to our total count while at Target. So we have nearly 70 items. Woo hoo. Still not very attached to the whole concept (although we did score a free pair of kitchen scissors at Macy's) and we are still listing charities.

Mom came up to visit Sunday and that afternoon we all went on a hike at Wallace Falls. It was in the eighties, muggy, and the trail was very crowded but the views were nice and we felt pretty good afterwards. The hike is in Gold Bar and a good distance from the corridor, but not quite far enough to ward off crowds on sunny days. It was slightly pathetic/depressing to see flip flops and smell cologne all over the trail, I think the fiance and I enjoy the trail more in rainy weather!

Today Mom and I checked out the things the fiance and I registered for and shopped some clearance. I also baked for the first time in weeks (a delectable walnut cake with praline frosting).
Our original plan was to refurbish an old sewing desk of my grandmother's during my mom's visit, but the rain prevented our project (this might be a perk considering the fiance seemed interested in working on the project). Our plan is to remove all the old paint, clean it up, refurbish what hardware we can and slap on some new paint.

Taking my first full pill of Paxil tonight and next Monday the fiance and I are going back to Seattle for a check up appointment with the new ARNP. Feeling a little more neutral lately instead of down 'n mopey but haven't quite had a fantastic day yet. I'm not sure if she'll have me take another quiz to gauge my mood, that might wait until a month on the pills which would be about how long it takes for most antidepressants to really kick in.

As for the cats: Iroh has been sniffly since late last week and is finally starting to look better (no goop weeping out of his eye or drips from his nose). Millie has taken over the role of "chunk kitty" and was very cute today playing with the bag of cat treats. She managed to hold the bag in her teeth and carry it around the house, dump it over to wiggle a treat out, and then munch away! Fiendish little kitty!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A (kind) Frying Pan to the Head

This week I was down south in my hometown a couple days. Tuesday I helped Mom host a something-something party where people buy stuff and taste stuff and yakkity yak. It was a pretty good time and a group of other teachers, Mom, and I hung out chatting for hours after the party ended. 

The next morning I had coffee at my surrogate-grandma's house. I guess that statement warrants some explanation, or at least a little story...

Growing up an Army brat, I didn't get to see my grandparents that often. Once we did settle down in Western Washington, I still didn't see my grandparents and didn't know them very well. Not to mention that my maternal grandmother died when I was four, my biological maternal grandfather lived in Missouri, and my maternal step-grandfather lived in the woods and I only recall one visit to him when I was very young. My paternal grandparents traveled and we saw them for Christmas on some other holidays but my paternal grandfather died when I was in middle school and my paternal grandmother lived part of the year in Arizona and died a couple years ago. 

Basically-I wasn't too close to my grandparents. Enter the "surrogates." 

Once my dad retired from the Army, we settled into our family home in the South Puget Sound. When my parents had bought the house two years before, they had met a family across the street about their own ages and that family happened to live right next to the wife's parents. That grandparent-aged couple turned into my surrogate grandparents while their daughter and son-in-law became our closest neighborhood/family friends.

Over the years it has been a cherished tradition to "go for coffee" at my surrogate grandparents' house and I enjoyed another a morning coffee on Wednesday before visiting one of my mother's friends.

My mom asked this friend, we'll call her Wanda, if she would talk to me about depression and coping and life and treatment and everything since she had personal experience. Of course, being in a depressive slump, I was a little anxious about the idea. I hadn't seen Wanda in years and I didn't recall knowing her all that well years ago, but within five seconds of walking into Wanda's dining room the discussion was on and the anxiety was gone. We just talked. And talked, and TALKED.

I think I arrived at Wanda's around 10:00 am, we called Mom to come by shortly after 4:00 pm and didn't leave until close to 5:00 pm! Talk about covering some ground! 

It's something different to talk to someone with a personal point of view and experience with depression as opposed to a therapist or a doctor or a friend who hasn't had depression. It was awesome. There were tears but also lots of laughs and by the end of the "chat" I was ready to get help and get help soon. 

Going into the discussion I was prepared to have another terrible episode and wait another three weeks in pain for someone to call me back and accept me for an appointment. I told Wanda, "I feel like I want help NOW and if I don't get an appointment by the end of the week I'll just walk into an ER, but then I feel melodramatic. I think if I can't get into a doctor right away I'll just wait until next week, have another breakdown, become suicidal, wake up achy and sore, recover over the next few days, and just wait some more." 

Wanda pointed out, "You realize what you just did? You normalized the behavior! This is bad enough to want treatment now, you're minimizing the severity of the situation. It's not melodramatic, you're not being a drama queen teen-you're brain is saying 'HELP!'"

A large part of our conversation was about my parents and how I can help them help me. It was nice to hear a parent's perspective on coping with depression in a child (we even talked about coping with my depression and raising my own children later on). 

I realized just how worried my parents must be about me and how important it is to pick up when my mom calls and text her back within a reasonable amount of time. I also realized that it's okay to ask for help, even if that help is cash for meds or therapy. I've been reluctant to reach out to my parents, but after our conversation I realized there is no one who wants to help me more than my parents and that getting me healthy is most important.

Before I headed north that night I worked with my folks to fill out a registration packet for a low-cost clinic in Seattle (it's called Qliance-check it out!). I called this morning to get an appointment for Friday, but it was booked. I remembered the conversation from the day before and ended up getting an appointment for 10:00 am this morning. 

The fiance emailed work to take the morning off and drove me to the appointment (good riddance, I was an anxious mess!). The parking garage was frustrating, but the clinic was nice and neat, and the ARNP that helped us was lovely. 

I was very vulnerable and scared and she asked all the right questions and offered supportive and caring service-even included the fiance in the conversation. I couldn't have asked for a better experience and I didn't have to worry about cost!

She prescribed me Paxil and also Xanax (emergency use only to prevent major anxiety attacks). I also did a questionnaire that rated my mood so we have a baseline to compare my mood to in a couple of weeks to see if the antidepressants are working. 

Also awesome-she made sure that I could get generic medications to keep my financial anxiety down. SWEET.

I'm still worn out and know that the path to wellness is still a long one, but today was a huge step in the right direction. It's been a tiring week, but a good, productive week as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Whaddya Know?-Another Episode!

More rough times this past Sunday and Monday. I think the stress of preparing for an interview for a job that I'm a little intimidated by as well as really want triggered another episode.

This time around I felt really dejected and had thoughts of self-harm impulses, but the suicidal side of things wasn't as pronounced. I was able to talk with the fiance about it and he understood when I couldn't go to bed. I ended up staying awake until 4:30 am playing online card games and watching movies.

I had planned to do yoga the next day at noon, but ended up sleeping until the fiance came home at a quarter-to-one. He took off the afternoon to "work from home" and take me on a hike (he also tried to get me to eat lunch-but I only had enough appetite for an apple and eventually choked down a sandwich before our hike).

It took some effort on both our parts to get me out the door. I was more interested in curling up on the floor in the fetal position than getting dressed or riding in the car forty-five minutes to the trailhead. I napped most of the way and the first half of the hike was super slow moving on my part.

***Special note, I peed in the woods! With classic Hannah-style I choose the one place with a giant millipede and ended up tripping on the way back to the trail (no to mention the other fall I took on the way back down the trail).

That would be the bug... *shudder*

The rest of the hike was gorgeous but grueling and pretty steep. The trail was Heybrook Lookout and the views at the top were lovely. There was some Highway 2 noise, but the view of (what we assume was) Bridal Veil Falls and Mount Index were well worth the noxious rumbles.

The lookout itself was a pretty cool piece of architecture and the site even had a fire pit and picnic table for day use. There were some gorgeous orange lilies and I spotted my fair share of slugs. By the end of the hike I was talkative again and feeling much better. 

I'm still sore and worn down, but the fiance is trying to find me a family doctor to talk about medication since none of the local clinics have bothered to call me back or accept my appointment pleas.

As for the cats: Iroh got a good brushing today as well as munched down some scrambled eggs and kibble this morning. Millie has been affectionate and I woke up in a glare of cat eyes and whiskers at one point this morning.

In other news: Heading down south after a shower and reheating coffee to-go. My mom is hosting some kind of party and also suggested I talk to one of her teacher-friends about depression (apparently she and her children use all different approaches to managing their depression). So, I'm trying to steady myself for the socializing and journey south-we'll see how things go!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


May I first say that the fiance is a good guy. Even a goody-too-shoes at times-just not behind the wheel when it comes to speed limits.

Yesterday he had another court date (he deferred a ticket this time) and since it was down south off I90, he picked me up on his way and afterward we went for a little hike.

***I didn't go into the courthouse with him cuz I was dressed like a hikin' slob and my newly short-short hair was befuddled, but I did get to see some of the courthouse characters which was really fun. I don't mind going to court or airports or hospitals, I LOVE to see the people at these places. Fascinating!

While I was waiting I began reading the book that I gave him a few months back, "In The Plex." Even though I don't understand all of the technological jargon, I'm really enjoying the book! The author includes a bunch of technical information, but also writes in a way that is readable and crafts memorable characters (or brings the character of these people to the page). It's also interesting to learn about Google's history and their non-traditional work schemes.***

Anyways, to the hike!

We had planned to do a lake hike that was sevenish miles round trip, but the fiance found a shorter hike that involved waterfalls (my favorite) so we headed to a trail just off I90.

Right off we got a peek at the Snoqualmie and loads of mossy trees and fern. There were a few switchbacks and SLUGS. Awesomely ginormous slugs!

The really big one was past our trail's end after we inadvertently transferred onto a lengthier trail. Eventually we listened to our guts and the roar of I90 and figured we'd overshot the trail's end and turned around. Then we found this monster!

The fiance wasn't up for me putting the slug on his arm but was down with a boot-shot. Even more awesome was the SNAIL I spotted on our way down!

The falls were gorgeous and there was a really nice bridge on which we watched the falls, but we neglected to take pictures. I guess it just goes to show that our hikes aren't really about the sites, but more about the little discoveries along the way!

Not only did we see a bunch of ooey-gooey lifeforms, but we saw a chipmunk and a woodpecker. I had a glorious time watching the woodpecker. He had a particularly hypnotizing way of scaling the trees and had an endearing, curious chirp!

Which reminds me of the repulsive saddening display of tourist hikers we saw on the trail. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad people are out using trails! The fiance and I were just disappointed in how these people hiked with their cameras out first and their gazes locked on an electronic screen.

It made me think of Thoreau and how his ventures into Nature weren't touristy excursions or pursuits of trail end sites. He opened his mind and used Nature's inspiration and cultivated contemplation of the basic questions/essence/nature of life. These people had never really left their computers. Physically, yes. Mentally, no way. There were honed in on snapshots and photo ops. I wonder how many animals they spotted?

The fiance and I had a good hike and we also had a good chat about wedding planning and the upcoming/ongoing transformation of our reception. Still up in the air but we have lots of time to figure it out.

I love the natural beauty of trails and hiking, but I also love the effects of a good hike. Yeah, it gets your legs burning and you sweat. But I'm talking more about the feelings of peace and hope and reassurance that I get while on a hike; and a rejuvenated sense of self. Not to mention that my fiance and I always come back from a hike with a renewed sense of appreciation for one another.

All in all it was a good hike, a good day-OH! I nearly forgot! I got a call back for a job, a WRITING/EDITING job! The call was a semi-phone interview/evaluation and the dude said he would be calling back to schedule interviews later this week or next week~even went as far to say "and I think I'll be calling you back-haha." So, I might have a chance at getting my first major-related job!

I think I'm as nervous as I am excited, possibly more nervous than anything. I have been feeling better emotionally/mentally, but I'm still not restored to previous Hannahness and am still feeling weakened and vulnerable. But this opportunity could shoot some structure into my life, which would definitely help my recovery as long as I control my stress levels.

Anywho. Busy day yesterday! Slugs and all....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Run-Around Sunday

This past Sunday was a bit of a run-around for the fiance and me. We woke up around six to get on the road by seven and down to my parents' house by half-past eight. Why? Because we made plans to go see our potential wedding venue and then visit NorthwesTrek with the folks!

I wasn't in the best of spirits (my pants were like a giant vice around my waist and I don't enjoy sporting a muffin top in public) so I was pretty quiet and sensitive. They seemed to like the venue (Mom even cried a little bit) but afterwards Dad voiced some concerns over the reception concept.

Our ceremony concept/plans are pretty firm. We're only having family and our best friends and we want a location that is meaningful to us. This venue is an inn just outside Mt. Rainier National Park. We love Mt. Rainier and during our courtship went camping and hiking all over the cascades, so it's a perfect place to "do the deed."

But Dad's worries for the reception have thrown me off-balance in regards to our reception plans. I'm torn between planning a wedding celebration that is suited to the fiance and me (small and low-key) or planning a wedding celebration more cohesive towards my folks' desires (I talked with Mom on the phone and she said that Dad is looking forward to walking me down the aisle, having his father-daughter dance, and that he probably wants to show me off and have a bigger party than the fiance and I had conceived).

So what's this all mean?

The fiance and I were originally planning to have only family and best friends to our ceremony. After the ceremony we are having a small tea ceremony with just the two of us, pictures, then dinner/lunch with games, cake, dances, and toasts afterward. Our version of including everyone else involves throwing a big wedding shower/pre-reception instead of a big reception after the wedding. (Cue the confused parental faces and awkwardness).

 The proposed dining area at the inn near Mt. Rainier (seats up to 50)

Now we're considering something a bit more traditional although we aren't super-enthused with the idea of an evening reception. Neither of us want to spend money on booze or have everyone just getting plastered and dancing like fools. Even with a larger reception we'd like some games with some dancing and champagne/cider toasts.

We also have a weird hang-up about serving a sit-down meal to people we really don't know and don't really see. Does anyone else feel weird about this? Serving our family and best friends-sure. That makes sense to us, they've supported us and been there for us our entire lives and we want them to witness our commitment to one another and a nice meal seems like we're saying "thanks for being with us on this bumpy road called life."

As for the other folks we don't really know or talk to, it seems like a dinner reception is just a cattle call and some of them simply come for the free food. So our solution to the awkward feeling in our guts? Lunch. Or even better, some sandwiches and lots of appetizers.

We both think a morning ceremony would be romantic and beautiful, so a lunch reception would be a great option that takes out some of the "dinner will be served" formality and also cuts costs and shakes up the wedding format so we can insert our own traditions.

Even with this compromise, I'm still anxious about a large reception. The fiance and I are steadfast introverts and while I step into my public speaking/comedian shoes from time to time, right now I feel really vulnerable when thinking of a big crowd in a room watching me and the fiance and asking awkward questions or heaven-forbid giving me gifts. Accepting gifts is so freaking awkward for me! I've gotten better at expressing my gratitude to my immediate family (I get a lot of practice through Christmas) but special occasions still get me flustered....

Anyways, some of our new venue concepts (since the inn near Mt Rainier is too small to accommodate) include zoos, local event halls near Mt. Rainier, historic buildings, or even tree farms (the fiance found some cool spots). But we are very price sensitive and considering our previous arrangements felt like they were bursting the purse strings, arranging for a larger event makes my financial worries beacon blare.

We want something unique and suited to our tastes and personalities, something more meaningful than a random Elks lodge along the I-5 corridor-but I'm a cheap ass. So the battle begins.

In other news, we had a WUNDERBAR visit to NW Trek. Not only were most of the animals in exhibits out-and-about, but the tram ride blew our minds.

On the tram we figured we'd be able to spot some bison and goats. We ended up seeing tons of bison (a couple within arms reach of the tram), long-horn sheep, mountain goats, a female and male moose, raccoons, turtles, elk, caribou, deer, and swans.

We all had a really good time and the fiance I really enjoyed watching the river otters and beavers. I even got to see porcupines and skunk! They even brought a beaver out of the exhibit and we got to see it walking around and munching snacks.

I think our trip to NW Trek inspired our dreams of a zoo reception...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Little Things I'm Excited About Today

Let us first begin this post with some excited Wallace cheese-hands *eeeeee!*

Exciting news numero uno: HEKLA. Hekla Hekla HEKLA! Come on, baby-ERUPT!

Some people might be freaking out. I mean sure, people gotta fly places and ash clouds floating over Europe tend to mess that act of travel up quite a bit. But come on, it's HEKLA!
Now, I'm a rather recent Icelandophile but anyone who has looked into Icelandic history, lore, or culture should know Hekla is one badass volcano with some awesome stories. Not every volcano in the world is known as the "Gateway to Hell" and despite it's rather diminutive stature-Hekla has had some impressive eruptions.

During my visit to Icelandic museums it was emphasized often how Hekla's major explosions aid in archaeological dating processes today. The eruptions are labeled H1, H2, H3, H4 and so on. A few of these eruptions had enough umpf to cover 80% of Iceland in ash (hello! archaeologists' dreams come true).

Needless to say, I'm excited to see Hekla erupt. Maybe it's a bit twisted, but I would love to be in Iceland to experience an eruption at some point in my life.

I've grown up in the shadow of Mt. Rainier most of my life, heard stories of Mt. St. Helen's eruption, and the Ring of Fire. We've had earthquakes and volcanic activity scares, talked about the potential for major flooding if Rainier went off, and watched our share of volcano sci-fi drama. Volcanoes aren't as big a cultural item here as they are in Iceland, but I'm pretty sure they're much more familiar to Washingtonians than say-Ohio folk.

Anywho, why would I want to be in Iceland for an eruption? I think it would be fun, unique, and memorable (as long as I don't die, of course). From what I've read, it seems like Icelanders tend to appreciate eruptions as a special geological event, keep themselves aware and prepared, but don't panic. Really, they're the Northern Lights Hawaii. Just some folks living on a volcanic island-no biggie. ;o) Now, just to convince the fiance....

Exciting news numero dos: hybrid foal from China rocking my socks. Call it what you will-"donkra" or "zonkey" or any other number of awful word blends. Zebra and donkey may not give birth to gorgeous hybrid names, but the babies are delightful!

And for the record, the zebra was the momma and the donkey was the daddy. Either way, I think it's adorable. I'm not entirely sure why it happened, but I'll appreciate the cuteness anyways.

In other news, the fiance and I were at ye olde Bed, Bath, & Beyond last night and acquired a new shelf for our shelf (I have a compulsion about organizing dishes to max efficiency) and a set of tongs as well as a new purple rug for the kitchen. 

The old rug was green and stringy and didn't have a sticky side so it slipped all over the place. The new rug is purple, squishy, and stays in place very well. The fiance was very happy and did some kneading last night. 

As for the cats: Iroh had a bath and is looking quite svelte and handsome. He has lost some weight since the Mill-star made her appearance and she seems to be packing a little too much around the waist. We may have to initiate separate eating areas to prevent this wonky-dieting. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On the lighter side...

Saw "Bridesmaids" last week with my folks and the fiance. It was purty-durn funny but also surprisingly crass! Basically the female "Hangover."

Kristen Wiig plays the main character and as with most of her roles there were some plain awkward moments, other moments were hilarious, others painfully awkward.

The movie was over-the-top at times, but right on the money (weddings are freakin' crazy and they make people freakin' crazy!). I absolutely loved the cop/love interest and Melissa McCarthy ("Gilmore Girls," "Mike & Molly") did a marvelous job as the butch sister-in-law.

Wiig's roommates will make you cringe and you'll really want some pink lemonade and cupcakes by the end of the flick. Definitely enjoyable and unique but probably not up for any major awards ;o)

WARNING-first scene is a sex scene and makes watching with parents a little awkward, but after that it's not so bad!

Wednesday Already?!

Fourth of July BBQ at my parents went over pretty well. The fiance and I played a lot of volleyball and had some good food (my pies went over smashingly) and he had his fair share of beer. Let's just say about halfway home he slumped over like a ragdoll and snoozed hardcore from there on out.

The BBQ didn't seem stressful but when we got home that night and all through yesterday I felt really wore out. Last night I woke up in a panic and anxiety-ridden about getting back into therapy.

It's been over a week now since I submitted my request for an initial appointment and the clinic hasn't called me back. I'm really frustrated and discouraged by the time it takes to find a counselor/psychiatrist that uses a sliding scale for fees or will take clients without insurance or Medicaid.

One clinic said they couldn't help me if I didn't have insurance, I'd have to get on Medicaid first. Other clinics simply said "We can't help you" or quoted me their going rate and waited for me to dismiss myself from the call. How supportive and encouraging of them, it's not like they work with suicidal people who already have feelings of hopelessness or anything. *barf*

Not only is this struggle to find help frustrating, it's complicating my illness. Every time I feel rejected by a clinic I shirk back into a cloud of shame and my depression grows. I feel isolated and helpless-if these clinics/doctors/offices that are supposed to help me just send me packing, where am I supposed to go? I don't want to check into an inpatient facility-I'm trying to utilize other resources, I don't want to take up that spot when someone else may need it more and it's a scary prospect and a giant leap as far as treatment goes.

If you've ever suffered a major depressive episode you know how paralyzing it is. Just taking care of yourself or doing minor household chores is a major effort-let alone researching and calling facilities for help. If I'm not mustering up the energy and courage to talk to someone I'm battling waves of anxiety concerning rejection or finances. Then to be "rejected" on top of that-it's crushing.

I'm trying to control my depressive logic (the poisonous kind that doesn't make logical sense unless you're suicidal) that leads me down a dark road each time my quest for help hits a bump in the road. "These places are meant to help, but I don't qualify-no money, no insurance, no aid, no care. So that must mean I don't matter. I'm not contributing to society, why would they want to help me? Maybe they want me to go off and die."

Of course, whenever I become suicidal I'm bombarded by feelings of shame and guilt regarding leaving my loved ones with so much pain and more emotional burden than I put upon them now and the throbbing headaches and cycles of self-hatred, shame, and disgust crank into gear. Sad how such a dark place can be so familiar? Sometimes I think I know the ins-and-outs of my sadness better than any happiness.

I've put a lot of pressure on myself to conquer my depression once again. Regain the health that I've lost, get a job, do my chores, take care of myself and all that pressure and self-deprecating compounds the problem. My fiance gave me some good advice last night when I was describing my angst (I want to be better but my body/mind/healthcare won't let me get there) and he said this,

"It's like you're trying to sail a boat before you know how to swim. You've got to concentrate on one stroke at a time, not the 90-million other things that you want to do or think you need to do. Just slow down, and be in the now. We're conditioned to want change NOW, but it takes a long time."

"Ship in Full Sail" Darryl Trezise

It was the perfect thing to say and I cried a little bit. I've never conquered a relapse overnight, and I probably never will. I'm so glad that he understands that it's an illness I'm trying to fight but my weapons are blunted. Even with his support and understanding I feel guilty for "burdening" him and at times I'm terrified that he'll forget who I really am and leave because of this depressed-Hannah.

Right now, it's day-by-day. All I can do is get out of bed, try to stop the broken record in my head, and try to find help. I've got to learn to swim again and most importantly-not drown in the process!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A New Month, A New Post

July is here and it got here really really fast.

This time last year I was preparing for a solo two-week trip to Iceland and in pretty high spirits. Ah-what a year it has been.

That January I had gotten myself to a new counselor that proved to be an amazing asset and improvement to my life. I consulted with a doctor and began taking my second antidepressant medication ever (after my then-boyfriend had convinced me to leave counseling and stop my previous medication that summer before).

I filed for FMLA to reduce my work hours without affecting my insurance and was able to improve my quality of life but still struggled with intense anxiety and lack of energy. I had been living apart from my then-boyfriend, and after moving completely out of his rental-I broke off the relationship. Eventually, I quit my job at the bank (and left behind a terrible manager but also some good friends) and decided to take a couple months and live off my savings.

Looking back on that tumultuous spring of 2010, I did a pretty drastic job of changing my situation. I went back to a counselor and gained perspective on a hazardous relationship with my partner as well as an unhealthy work environment. I actively recouped myself and left behind a negative environment to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

By late May I was rejuvenated enough to consider dating again and I joined eHarmony. In June I booked my plane tickets and made hotel reservations for a week in Reykjavik (Hotel Odinsve is awesome-and Joana is the BEST) and left a week unplanned and TBD once I landed in Iceland.

The two weeks I spent in Iceland were awe-inspiring, relaxing, invigorating, oddly reassuring, and empowering. I wasn't the only solo female traveling Iceland, but to this day I still get perked eyebrows and stares when I say I went alone. I have no regrets, in fact-I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Iceland was my cry of freedom. My assertion that I could and would survive and that I didn't have to live in a cold, lonely world like I had seen before. Only a few months before grocery shopping at the local Freddie's was a chore dripping with social anxieties and physical exhaustion; Iceland was my personal playground and pride parade, the celebration at turning over a new leaf.

Shortly after I returned I was matched with my now fiance who proves to me again and again everyday the depth of his caring and love for me and reassures me that a good life is always an option.

I have been over some bumps this past year and the time has come again to reroute the dark tides in my mind.

Since last July and returning from Iceland I have struggling financially, leaned on family and friends, worked for another bank, quit another banking job, moved, and sought counseling again-and even become engaged to  the best surprise of my life.

I miss the joy and freedom I had last July, but I also know that those rewards are mine to reap and the path to success lies before me, waiting to be walked on and beat into submission. And that is how I see it, a battle or at least some intense farming (which some would call a battle).

A Field of Flowers - Danial Ridgway Knight

Happiness and health rarely comes easily and certainly not without effort. Especially as someone with a family history of clinical depression I have to work and nurture happiness in my life. I have to cultivate an environment of care and concern for myself and others and push patterns of health into my life-and I do mean PUSH.

I've never been a very physically active person. This probably stems from the fact that my skills are based in stationary realms-academics, writing, art-and a long history of negative self-image. It seems silly to say, but I recall enjoying physical activity more before my family's trip to KY (Army family orders) and I think that move marked a shift in my life.

Moving to a new school scared the shit of me. Or should I say piss? My first day at school in 2nd grade I followed my regular routine from the school in Washington. This resulted in leaving the lunchroom on my own to go to recess (I must've assumed this was the expectation) and locking myself out of the building.

After realizing I was alone, outside, and had no idea where the restroom was I began flanking the building looking for a restroom or unlocked door to get back inside. No such luck. I ended up pissing my pants and hiding it under a sweatshirt tied around my waste for the rest of the day after I found the front office doors and my mother was unable to pick me up.

I'd always been an introvert and more reserved than my siblings, but since KY I've become "the quiet one" and I blossomed into the role of shy girl-nerd through grade school. I wasn't just the shy one at school, I was the weak impala of the family. I'm the only family member not endowed with natural athleticism and have struggled with my weight since grade school.

Combine my "shortcomings," feelings of isolation, and sense of lacking with a predisposition for depression and it's no wonder I had a run in with self harm when I was sixteen. Since then I have been battling waves of depression and years of negative thought patterns with the label of DEPRESSED ONE at the forefront of my thoughts.

I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and shame. Shame over my weight, my lack of athleticism, my depression-it's a big ole ugly circle of nasty!

Yes. I have a chronic disease and it's called depression. It's not always easy to see, I don't need crutches or a wheelchair and I can look just like a "normal" gal-but it alters me from the inside out. There is no cure and medicine can only do so much. If I don't fight, there is no hope. If I don't fight from the inside-out, there is no healing just suppression.

So this July, I'm a little down. But I'm still fighting and I know that there will be other Iceland's in my future and even in the face of my relapse, I will celebrate the independence I have gained and all the good in my life.

And goshdarnit, I'm gonna eat some pie while I'm at it! Happy Independence Day weekend everyone-whatever that mean to you in addition to what it means to our nation. :o)